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Roche continues steady rise with second top ten result

Posted 24 August 2011

Nicolas Roche produced another top ten finish on stage 5 of the Vuelta á Espana to maintain his steady rise through the GC with his eighth place in Valdepenas de Jaen reducing his overall deficit to 1’47”.

Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) climbed two places to 25th in the GC behind Quickstep’s Sylvain Chavanel who maintained his race lead after Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) powered his way to an impressive stage win.

The Spaniard could not be restrained on the short but viciously steep finishing climb where the 23% gradient cost Dan Martin 29 seconds and a drop to 18th in the GC, albeit with a reduced overall deficit of 1'04".

The 187 kilometre stage form Sierra Nevada opened at an explosive pace as a group of 18 riders pulled clear en route to the first ascent of the second category Alto de Valdepenas.

The peloton covered the first 45 kilometres in just under an hour before Michael Albasini (HTC Highroad) and Tom Jelte Slagter (Rabobank) escaped from the lead group on the lower slopes of the climb.

They were joined by Rein Taaramae (Confidis) over the summit but their slender 30 seconds advantage saw Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Johannes Frohlinger (Skil-Shimano), Davide Malacarne (Quickstep), Adrian Palomares (Andalucia-Caja Granada) and Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Moviestar) make contact on the descent.

With their lead confined to no more than a minute Albasini took it upon himself to press on alone at the 100 kilometre mark and opened a lead of 2’12” on the peloton before he was rejoined by Frohlinger and Ruiz after another 47 kilometres.

The race regrouped inside the final 23 kilomere with Rodriguez’s Katusha team setting a blistering pace as the race wound its way back onto the foothills of the Alto de Valdepenas for the second time.

The peloton was quickly split into three groups as the Liquigas-Cannondale team of defending champion Vincenzo Nibali took charge on the climb with Roche and Martin tucking into the front group of forty riders.

Martin, wearing the white jersey as best young rider, appeared to struggle towards the back of the group while Roche put the disappointment of yesterday behind him as he took up a position near the head of the group.

The race favourities stuck together after Alesandr Dyackenko (Astana) attacked and refused to follow as David Moncoutie (Confidis) set off in pursuit to open a lead of 30 seconds over the summit before the seven kilometre descent to the one kilometre long finishing climb.

Roche and Martin were well placed as the race hit the climb but were not alone in struggling to reply when stage four winner Daniel Moreno launched off the front on the 23% gradient with his Katusha teammate Rodriguez on his wheel.

Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil DCM) joined the duo but was forced to settle for second place as Rodriguez stamped his authority on the stage to win the stage by four seconds.

Roche secured his eighth place in the company of race favourites Michele Scarponi (Lampre ISD) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma Lotto) to gain and consequently claw back vital seconds on those who share his GC ambitions.

He remains in striking distance of the top ten overall and will join Martin in looking to the weekend’s mountain stages as their next opportunity to recover lost ground.

Results:

2011 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 5: Sierra Nevada – Valdepenas de Jaen, 187 kilometres

1.  Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 4:42:54        
2.  Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team   at 0:00:04     
3.  Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team at 0:00:05        
4.  Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team at 0:00:07        
5.  Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD at 0:00:08        
6.  Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack             
7.  Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek             
8.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale             
9.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto             
10. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astan

8. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 7 seconds
30. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin Cervelo at 29 seconds

General classification after stage 5

1.  Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team  18:02:34        
2.  Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team at 0:00:09        
3.  Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team at 0:00:23        
4.  Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek at 0:00:26        
5.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 0:00:33        
6.  Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana at 0:00:36        
7.  Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek at 0:00:38        
8.  Sergio Pardilla Belllón (Spa) Movistar Team  at 0:00:43        
9.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 0:00:44        
10. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Movistar Team at 0:00:52     

18. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin Cervelo at 1 minute, 04 seconds
25. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 1 minute, 48 seconds

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